California is renowned for its Indian Summers. As the season wanes, warm weather persists – perfect for an afternoon out on the lake with friends and family.
The Welker family spent many summers in Lake Gregory, a small town in the San Bernardino Mountains. Brothers occupied their time finding various ways to torture their sister, Winnie, and/or create other manners of mischief. (For Harry Potter fans, I have always envisioned older brothers Bill and Ray as the muggle version of Fred and George Weasely.)
Little Johnny Welker was the youngest of the bunch.
On one particular summer’s day, the Welker matriarch promised the children a trip up to Blue Jay on condition of good behavior – another small town about six miles north of Lake Gregory – where there was the possibility of popsicles to beat the heat.
Little Johnny was extremely keen on the popsicle proposal. But sadly, without the teenage girl motivation (of his older sister) to sun worship or the teenage boy dexterity (of his older brothers) to cause trouble without getting into it, the task of making sure his mom didn’t forget her promise fell to him.
Throughout the day, Johnny followed his mom around. As she completed some of her housework, he asked, “Is it time to go to Blue Jay?”
As she finished some chores out on the dock of the lake, he inquired, “When are we going to Blue Jay?”
He followed her around all day, questioning, “When are we gonna go to Blue Jay??? I want my popsicle!”
After a very repetitive 5-6 hours, mom’s patience was running low. Finally, the last of her reserves was depleted. Little Johnny wailed, “I wanna go to Blue Jay!!!” That was it. This behavior was ending NOW.
Johnny’s mom whirled around in a fury.
“I wanna go to Blu…”
She grabbed him by the arm, stunning him into a brief silence.
“You want to go to Blue Jay? You’re GOING to Blue Jay.”
Mom stormed off with little Johnny flying in her wake. His little feet weren’t even touching the ground.
It is the flight family legends are made of.
Legend has it Mom kept up this pace all the way to Blue Jay. So Johnny did, in fact, make it to Blue Jay that day. But as my Grandma Winnie always concluded with a wry smile, “I don’t think he ever got his popsicle…”
The cabin of family lore still stands there, lined by the stones that Johnny set along the walkway in the 1930s.
On Thursday, Little Johnny left us for his next great adventure.
This week John Welker took his final flight up the mountain. But this time, his mom will be eagerly awaiting him at their destination – popsicle in hand.
We’ll miss you Uncle John. You were the hero of my favorite family story.